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What’s The Most Reliable Second-Hand Car Out There?

Some of us may have a family with teenagers; some of us may have kids in their early twenties and at university; some of us will be single and not on a rich person’s wage.  There will be many of us who just can’t justify paying loads of money on a brand-new car, at least not yet.  Fair enough, too, as some cars are expensive when bought new (although here at Private Fleet, we will do everything we can to help you find the best deal). 

For most of us, a good second-hand car is the right way to go to ensure we can do life, get to and from work, hang out with friends, and go on that roadie around Australia that we’ve always wanted to.  For 2023, by the end of the year, almost 2.1 million used cars were sold in Australia.  These stats were from the Automotive Insights Report (AIR) published by the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) and AutoGrab. 

Thanks to two UK businesses, Carwow and Warrantywise, here are some really good second-hand cars that should be on our radar if we are looking to buy one that has proven reliability.  Carwow and Warrantywise teamed up to reveal the most reliable cars in the UK based on warranty and repair data.  All of the vehicles in the analysis were outside their manufacturer warranty.  In order to be included in this analysis, Warrantywise had to have at least 100 examples of a specific car on its books. 

The analysis revealed that the Honda Jazz is the most reliable second-hand car you can buy, boasting an overall reliability rating of 93.7%.  The next most reliable model is the Mazda 2, while the Toyota Auris (Corolla) comes in third in the rankings. Though this survey is UK-based, most of the cars that dominate the top 15 can be bought over here.  And they’re probably just as good here as they are there.

Note that in analyses done in previous years, the Lexus RX was the most reliable car, but for 2022 (the year of this particular analysis), there were not enough (couldn’t find 100 of them) Lexus RXs to make the Warrantywise’s books, so let’s just chuck this Lexus into the top four most reliable second-hand cars you can buy and be done with it!

Here is a list of the 15 most reliable second-hand cars you can buy in the UK.  The top four have a bit more info about them (albeit with the currency in British pounds, given that that’s where the research was done).  Most of the cars in the reliability analysis can be easily looked up in our Private Fleet Car Reviews page if you want to know more about them.  The Toyota Aygo and the Peugeot 107 will require some more searching, as they were are not really sold here in Australia. 

1. Honda Jazz (2007–2020), 93.7% reliability score.

The top spot goes to the trusty Honda Jazz.  This is a surprisingly practical small car that is also very fuel efficient.  It has put in a stunning performance for reliability, with the average cost of repair being low (£424.31).  The most common fault was with the central locking mechanism.  The most expensive repair happened to be with the air conditioning system (£973.66).  The average age of the Jazz cars in this analysis was 8.3 years old.  You won’t go far wrong buying a second-hand Jazz.

2. Mazda 2 (200–-present), 89.9% reliability score.

The average age of the Mazda 2 cars was 8.4 years old, suggesting that the Mazda 2 remains reliable even as it ages.  It also suggests that you will get a very good run for your money if you get a new version as well.  The average repair bills were impressively low (£319.22), and the most common fault was to do with the suspension.  The most expensive repair was with the electrical power steering pump (£2,422.31).  The Mazda 2 is a comfortable small car with plenty of style.  You can buy with confidence here.

3. Toyota Auris/Corolla (2013–2018), reliability score 89.7%. 

Spacious and comfortable, the zippy Toyota Corolla/Auris is a car that is hard to fault.  With an average age of 8.3 years old in this survey, these are great small/medium cars.  The average repair bill was £767.84.  The Gearbox/Transmission seemed to be the most common fault with the car and was also the most expensive repair (£1841.60).  Based on Warrantywise’s experience, you’re unlikely to go far wrong with the Toyota Corolla.  Sometimes, because Toyotas are so reliable, the first few owners may have skimped on maintenance and are happy to pass the bills onto the new owners.  Make sure the car you’re looking has a service record and has a smooth-operating gearbox. 

4. Mazda MX-5 (2005–2015), reliability score 86.5%.

Here is the most fun and reliable second-hand car you can buy!  The Mazda MX-5 averaged 8.4 years old in the reliability analysis, with an average repair bill being a remarkably low £341.78.  The most common fault was with the suspension, and the most expensive repair was with the air conditioning (£586.94), also remarkably low.

5. Toyota Aygo (2005–2022)

  • Reliability score 85.5%
  • Average age 7.5 years
  • Average repair £375.66
  • Most common fault was with the alternator.
  • Most expensive repair was the clutch (£1,339.36).

6. Kia Ceed (2012–present)

  • Reliability score 85.0%
  • Average age 7.9 years
  • Average repair £485.36
  • Most common fault was wheel bearings.
  • Most expensive repair was with the gearbox (£1,914.00).

7. Kia Rio (2011–present)

  • Reliability score 84.9%
  • Average age 8.3 years
  • Average repair £528.23
  • Most common fault was the gearbox.
  • Most expensive repair was the turbocharger (£1,655.39).

8. Suzuki Alto (2008–2013)

  • Reliability score 83.9%
  • Average age 6.8 years
  • Average repair £328.92
  • Most common fault was the electrical system.
  • Most expensive repair was with the engine cambelt (£733.70).

9.Hyundai i20 (2008–2020)

  • Reliability score 82.5%
  • Average age 7.6 years
  • Average repair £520.25
  • Most common fault was with the electrical system.
  • Most expensive repair was with the suspension (£2,361.36).

10. Peugeot 107 (2005–2014)

  • Reliability score 81.6%
  • Average age 7.9 years
  • Average repair £434.89
  • Most common fault was the heater fan motor.
  • Most expensive repair was the clutch (£1,128.44).

11. Honda Civic (2011–2022)

  • Reliability score 80.7%
  • Average age 7.2 years
  • Average repair £630.86
  • Most common fault was with the air conditioning.
  • Most expensive repair was with the fuel system injectors (£3,055.73).

12. Renault Kangoo (2007–2021)

  • Reliability score 80.1%
  • Average age 7.3 years
  • Average repair £576.37
  • Most common fault was with the electrical system wiring looms.
  • Most expensive repair was the gearbox (£1,173.00).

13. Toyota Yaris (2011–2020)

  • Reliability score 79.8%
  • Average age 8.2 years
  • Average repair £795.89
  • Most common fault was with the electrical system.
  • Most expensive repair gearbox (£3,106.92).

14. Toyota RAV 4 (2013–2018)

  • Reliability score 79.2%
  • Average age 8.0 years
  • Average payout £846.83
  • Most common fault was the fuel system injectors.
  • Most expensive repair was engine related (£2,055.74).

15. Fiat 500L (2012–2020)

  • Reliability score 78.7%
  • Average age 6.0 years
  • Average repair £551.58
  • Most common fault was the clutch.
  • Most expensive repair was the clutch (£1,880.21).

Of course, it’s not compulsory to get a second-hand car, and the safety net of the warranty period is certainly attractive with new cars.  Have a wee chat to one of our team and we might just be able to find you a brand new car for a price that’s not that much more than what you’d pay for a second-hand vehicle.